LITTLE ROCK — In what is the highest-ESPN-ranked recruit to commit to the University of Arkansas men’s basketball program since 2013, senior shooting guard and ESPN national No. 29 prospect Moses Moody of Little Rock pledged to the Razorbacks and first-year head coach Eric Musselman on Saturday during an announcement ceremony in his hometown.
Moody (6-6, Montverde Academy in Florida) chose the Hogs over Michigan, Virginia, and more than 30 high-major scholarship offers that included Ohio State, Kansas, Florida, Oregon, Southern Cal, Texas Tech, Florida State, and Texas. The last time an ESPN national top 30 recruit committed to (and eventually signed with) Arkansas was Little Rock native Bobby Portis, who was ranked No. 16 in the Class of 2013.
It’s unclear whether or not Moody will sign his national letter of intent during the early period that runs Nov. 13-20, but a source close to his recruitment said earlier in the week that Moody was not “anticipating signing early.” He joins fellow in-state guard and another national Top 80 recruit in Davonte Davis (6-4 point guard, Jacksonville, ESPN national No. 79 / 4-star prospect) to form Musselman’s current class of 2020 commitments.
Moody is the highest-ranked prospect among five 2020 in-state players with Hog offers that are ranked in the national Top 100 — a list that includes Davis, Chris Moore of West Memphis (6-6 combo forward, national No. 95 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com), Khalen “KK” Robinson of Bryant (6-1 point guard, Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, composite national No. 72 / 4-star prospect), and Jaylin Williams of Fort Smith (6-10 forward / center, composite national No. 69 / 4-star prospect).
“Basketball, you’ve got five guys, and two or three can turn something around really, really quick, and I think with Moses, Devo (Davis), and whoever else comes (to Arkansas) it’s sure going in the right direction,” said North Little Rock head coach Johnny Rice, who coached Moody when he earned MVP honors by leading the Charging Wildcats to the 7A state title as a sophomore in 2017-18. “I know Coach Muss likes — he’s an NBA guy and after talking to him and his assistants a little bit — that the way they like to play, he likes big guards. He likes length, he likes to be able to switch out on the floor, and everybody defending everybody. That’s something he’ll get with Moses for sure.
“In recruiting, the Arkansas guys have been going off to other places. But you get one to stay home, a high-profile (player) like Moses, and I think that trend will change and they’ll start keeping these kids at home.”
Moody took his official visit to Arkansas over the weekend of Oct. 18-20, marking his second OV to Fayetteville in the past year. He also took an unofficial visit to Fayetteville in late June. Musselman and every member of Arkansas’s coaching staff traveled almost weekly to Montverde to visit Moody in September and October, and associate head coach Chris Crutchfield was in Florida on Wednesday to visit Moody.
His parents were actively involved in his recruitment, and they attended all three of Arkansas’s preseason games while Moody was back at Montverde Academy. Moody also took official visits to Ohio State and Michigan, cancelled scheduled OVs to Kansas and Florida, and in the end the chance to stay home and play for the Hogs won him over with Michigan and Virginia rounding out his other two finalists.
Moody previously talked about his late-October official visit to Arkansas that was taken with his childhood friend, the aforementioned Robinson.
“Definitely Coach Musselman with his pro experience,” Moody said on Oct. 20 of what stood out during his Arkansas visit. “And I can tell the advantages that he has during his presentation — just his knowledge and experience. I really liked the coaches, the fans, and all the support. I really liked that. I’m taking that pretty big the way the city has recruited me.”
And just prior to taking that Arkansas visit, Moody talked about the opportunity to play for his homestate school.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the reality of what the school is now,” said Moody, whose unofficial visit to Arkansas was in late June. “During that unofficial visit, it was still early and Coach (Musselman ) had just gotten there. So I didn’t really do much of a visit, we did more of a meeting. I got to talk to the coaching staff, and saw their vision for me and where they saw me fitting in the program. It was a good meeting, definitely.
“The sense of putting on for your city, you know that’s definitely a draw. Growing up being around it, going to War Memorial to see games. It has the hometown feel to it, so it’s definitely an advantage. I’m from Arkansas, specifically Little Rock. I see a lot of stuff going on around there. I feel like if the (Razorbacks) team is strong, then they’ll have something to look at and it’s just more motivation to see something going well. A lot of people that don’t really root for a team they may not feel a sense of unity, like we’re all rooting for the same thing, you know. If we have something that really pulled everybody together I feel like that would be positive for the city.”
Moody was a starter as a junior (’18-19) at Montverde Academy, and he was also a star for Brad Beal Elite on the Nike EYBL 17U circuit the past two years.
In 20 games on the 2019 Nike EYBL circuit, Moody scored 16.1 points per game while shooting 43.1% field goals (including 28.1% from 3). He was 86-of-160 from inside the arc for 53.8%. He also averaged 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.6 steals. In 16 games on the 2018 circuit, Moody led BBE with 15.3 points per game while shooting 39.8% field goals (including 36.1% from 3). He also averaged 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists.
In October, ESPN projected Moody to be selected No. 29 overall in the first round in its 2021 NBA mock draft.
ESPN’s highest-rated prospect in Arkansas since 2016, Moody is broad-shouldered and long (his wingspan is 7-feet-plus), and he’s a smooth operator with effective range out to the NBA 3-point line. Moody has improved his drive-and-create game and has developed into a valid threat to finish at all three levels. An underrated defender and facilitator from the wing, Moody is not shy about diving to the floor for 50/50 balls. He’s coachable and plays with a team-first mindset, and his mentors have praised him for always seeking knowledge and feedback while working to improve as an all-around player.